Updated: May 24, 2019
So one day I went on to Netflix for something short to watch and I came across this circular gem of a movie called Circle (not to be confused with The Circle, there is no ‘the’ in this title, so completely different movie, hey it works) which is 1 hour 27 minutes long and it came out in 2015. It was directed and written by Aaron Hann as well as Mario Miscione (if that is their real name, I have already been lied to once… maybe… I’m not sure, maybe more times). It falls into the genre of sci-fi with a touch of human psychology since the movies likes to make you question what choices you would make and why.
The idea of this movie interested me since I wondered how anyone could make the concept of putting 50 people somewhere (maybe a black room, maybe a ship, the characters themselves are not 100 percent sure so the audience isn’t meant to be either) where all they could do is stand and talk… interesting. Oh, and they also choose who is going to die next... by voting… with their hands controlling the arrows on the floor.
The setting is a black void of a room where the characters are standing on their red individual circles in a large circle which encircles a machine which is also a circle which zaps the one who gets the most votes and that person dies and gets sucked away. There are arrows pointing to each character in the room and voting is done by each character being able to control their arrows (but the characters can only see their arrows, not each other’s) by twisting their hands and then closing their fists to lock in their vote. This void of a room did not come with instructions and the one person (I shall name him ‘Know- it-all’) who seemed to have some form of a clue, dies… before the rules of this game are figured out. Lucky certain characters manage to figure out them out. People will do anything to not get chosen even lie. Plus, the game can even be lying???
The movie throws you into the action without any ‘how they got there’ beginning story. This is relieved in the film without flashbacks and it is alluded to at the end. The opening camera shot is a track across the characters while they are sleeping (while they are standing, maybe they are all part horse and that is how they got chosen???) and the movie gives us a slight ‘jump scare’ where we just miss a lady waking up but the camera tracks back to her as if it, itself, forgot. I thought this was a nice touch since you feel like the characters in that you are not sure what to expect and that you know nothing. The camera work is good with some tracking shots, group shots, but nothing too fancy.
The sound design is interesting since it uses sounds in the world that the characters do hear. There are also some moments where someone is talking but the camera does not show who it is. I am not saying that it is 100 percent necessary but it did feel a bit disorienting since I was not that familiar with all the voices in the void. But maybe that was the point since you cannot know 50 people in a short amount of time.
A downside is that there is an effect that happens when a tie is formed (is a tie formed by the characters of the game???) are not as good as they can be. This felt a bit fake to me and I feel as if maybe just a theatre spot light from the top onto the tied characters would work better.
Hann and Miscione managed to keep my interest by creating characters that at times can boarder on stereotypical but giving us a wide range of characters with different backgrounds, sexual oriental, suspected closeted sexual oriental, religious views, different age groups, moral compasses of what will happen to the last two people since only one can leave, do they all even speak the same language etc. and general view of life aka who should die first and why. As well as throwing a few unsuspected twists aka Know-it-all’s death. Some of the characters knew each other before and some of the other characters have seen each other before. This latter was an interesting dimension. Some people lie but the truth comes out while others are too honest about their view which also puts them into bad graces. There is a racist, a woman abuser, an apparent porn actress (these two were outed by other people) and a non-religious person in a group of many religious people. Oh and they also split into two groups by choice.
There are many questions raised in watching this movie and a lot more after I finished viewing it, such as:
Did the rules change?
And is the game cheating?
Did ‘Know-it-all’ play the game before?
Who would you chose and why?
This is a movie worth checking out and thinking about, so check it out while you can. And watch their hands.